We live in a society that continually measures the depth of love based on the pleasure and comfort that someone or something brings.
I love chocolate.
I love this mattress.
I love this movie.
I love my spouse (until I don’t).
I love my job.
We use love in this way. Love is an emotion for so many of us, and by using love this way, we have lost the “choice” of love. We have lost the understanding of love as “action” versus love as “benefit”.
When love is an action, love is based on merit.
When love is a benefit, love is based on feeling.
This creates a serious issue in our theology as it relates to God.
So many of us are wondering if God loves us because we do not see him providing every benefit to us.
Constantly, I hear people ask:
Why did God make this happen to me?
Why is God punishing me?
And in these comments, we realize that we have a faulty view of:
God: God is not a genie in a bottle to serve you. You exist to serve him, manifest his glory, and reach people with the gospel.
Jesus: Jesus came to rescue you from eternal judgment, not make your physical life luxurious. Matter of fact, sometimes he asks you to give everything away and warns you as a follower that you will be persecuted.
Sin: Sin has left a destructive wake whereby no one is exempt.
Discipleship: Disciples have a real enemy called the devil who seeks to make your life horrible for following Christ.
Testimony: What brings greater testimony to your faith than when you are living for Christ in the midst of difficulty?
Could you imagine how easy it would be to reach people if coming to Jesus automatically made everything in life work out? Also, think of the false, self-centered, sinful motives for coming to Christ? That is not the gospel. The gospel is about surrender to Christ not self-glorification.
God’s love is not determined by his temporal benefits to us, but his actions on our behalf that results in an eternal benefit for all who believe.
So, this Christmas season, let us turn to the birth of Jesus as described in John 1 as evidence of God’s love for us.
John 1:1–3, 14: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. … 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is the eternal “Word.” He existed before creation. He was with God. Not only is Jesus co-existent with God, but He himself is God. Jesus is the Creator.
Despite all of who he is and all that he had, Jesus still came and dwelt among us bringing God’s presence to us so that we could one day dwell in God’s presence permanently.
In October, my mother passed away in Birmingham, AL. A visitation time was held on Wednesday night. As I was standing there talking with people, I looked up and saw two members of my congregation who drove 530 miles to be with me. It was amazing. When I saw them, I began to cry over the gesture of love they showed me. It was truly moving.
In a much greater way, Jesus sacrificed. When we talk about Jesus’ sacrifice, we often just reference his death on the cross, but we must also understand that his sacrifice began with his coming into this world. He came to be with us and provide a path to eternal life.
The creator connected himself intimately with his creation.
The one who fashioned all we see knowingly subjected himself to the confines of human flesh.
The light of the world dwelling in the glory of all of heaven encased himself in a dark lightless womb.
The one who would make room for all who believe in him came into a world that had no room for him.
The one who ruled on a throne slept in a filthy feeding trough.
The one with all the riches of heaven lived in the poverty of earth.
The eternal Word manifested himself to his humanity.
The uniquely begotten Son of God stepped out of the glory of heaven to bring the glory of the Father to us.
Does his birth not demonstrate his love for you?
So, this Christmas season, with every cry of a baby, every stroller, every manger scene, every Christmas carol, let us put to rest any doubt of God’s love for us.